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Lord Kennet: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for allowing me to intervene. I should like to ask a question of which I gave my noble friend advance warning. When may we hope to know what is in that agreement?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, as soon as that agreement is available it will of course be available for public consumption. However, I cannot at present give my noble friend an exact answer about when it will be so available. I shall write to him as soon as I have that information.
I can further assure the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, that this Government will play a full and responsible part in the process of change that NATO is currently undergoing. We welcome the new task that NATO is taking on, exemplified by the successful NATO-led operation in Bosnia, where 5,000 British troops are playing a vital and respected role. We are looking forward to the Madrid summit, where we expect the first candidates for membership to be invited to begin negotiations for accession. We believe that enlargement of NATO and enhanced co-operation with countries which are not invited or which do not wish to join will deepen security in all of Europe, extending across the continent the peace, stability and habits of close co-operation that NATO embodies.
The noble Lords, Lord Grenfell, Lord Taverne and Lord Weidenfeld, concentrated upon European issues. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, does not really expect me to be quite so bold as he urged me to be in his speech. I believe that we shall have the opportunity for the debate that the noble Lord suggests in due course. However, I can say that this Government have shown their determination to improve competitiveness and to promote employment across Europe by the establishment of a competitiveness task force led by Sir David Simon which will seek to break down the remaining barriers to business in the single market. As the noble Lords, Lord Wright of Richmond and Lord Gillmore, said, he will be ably supported by the FCO diplomats and staff, whose commitment and dedication is already evident to my ministerial colleagues and myself.
The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, raised questions about information from European colleagues. We have made it clear that we have the determination to make the EU more democratic, transparent and relevant to ordinary people. This means facilitating the scrutiny of EU legislation by national Parliaments. It also means that the activities and operation of the EU must be made more accessible and comprehensible to its citizens. We will be supporting proposals in the IGC in both those areas. We are also looking at further initiatives that we might take to achieve greater openness in the EU.
Several noble Lords raised the question of the BBC World Service; they included the noble Lords, Lord Gillmore, Lord Redesdale and Lord Weidenfeld. The World Service has a vital role in increasing the respect and goodwill that there is towards the United Kingdom. We shall examine very carefully the future funding requirements of the World Service. We intend to ensure that the reorganisation of the BBC has no adverse effects on the service's output. The British Council is the UK's principal agency for cultural relations and an integral part of our overseas efforts. It is a first class organisation which is making a huge contribution to the respect in which this country is held.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, raised a number of questions on human rights. My colleague, Mr. Henderson, has already issued the statement in relation to Turkey to which he referred. The noble Lord has written to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary with a number of suggestions concerning the Harare Declaration and CHOGM. We are currently studying the papers that he has sent and will send him a detailed reply shortly.
The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, raised questions in relation to Burma and the Sudan. I listened carefully to her knowledgeable and moving contribution. I shall read it again in Hansard and write to the noble Baroness. I thank her for the manner in which she put forward her case.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, was warm in his appreciation of current government policy and action in Europe. In view of the sharp contrast he may find with the policy of his own party, perhaps I might go so far as to invite him to consider whether he might like to cross the Floor of the House again.
In closing, I wish to say that in this debate the Government have set before your Lordships their vision of Britain's new foreign policy. We have today described some of the ways we intend to achieve our goals. This is a Government who believe in taking a lead to secure our objectives. Our aims are clear, coherent and achievable. Our foreign policy will be active, dynamic and resolute. We shall be active in taking a leading role in Europe to get the best possible deal for the British people. We shall be dynamic in working for peace and to prevent future conflicts and we shall be resolute in working around the world for human rights and for sustainable development.
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